Central Expressway (Dallas)

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US Highway 75 marker

US Highway 75
Central Expressway
Route information
Maintained by TxDOT
Major junctions
South end: I-345 in Dallas
  I-635
President George Bush Turnpike in Richardson
US 380 in McKinney
North end: Collin-Grayson County Line
Highway system
SH 74 SH 75

Central Expressway is a north–south highway in Dallas, Texas (USA) and surrounding areas. The best-known section is the North Central Expressway, a name for a freeway section of U.S. Highway 75 between downtown Dallas and McKinney, Texas. The southern terminus is at an intersection with "hidden" Interstate 345 (signed as Interstate 45) and Woodall Rodgers Expressway.[1] From south of Main Street and its crossing under the Interstate 45 overhead in downtown Dallas, Central Expressway became the South Central Expressway, renamed César Chávez Boulevard on April 9, 2010.

North Central Expressway[edit]

Route description[edit]

Central Expressway at Haskell Avenue
Central Expressway at Fitzhugh Avenue

The facility has 8 continuous general-purpose lanes from downtown Dallas to Legacy Drive in Plano except for a six-lane segment where it passes under Interstate 635 (two additional lanes are present but are only entrance ramps/exit ramps for Forest Lane and Midpark Road). For the six miles (10 km) north of downtown Dallas, the freeway lies more than 30 feet (9.1 m) below adjacent and partially cantilevered frontage roads.

The North Central Expressway is near high-income neighborhoods and enclave cities such as Highland Park and University Park. The freeway is also adjacent to popular districts including Uptown, Cityplace, Lower Greenville, NorthPark Center, and the Telecom Corridor. Near the intersection of Central Expressway and Mockingbird Lane is Southern Methodist University, and Mockingbird Station.

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail system has a tunnel underneath the North Central Expressway between downtown Dallas and Mockingbird Station.

Central Expressway near Southern Methodist University and Mockingbird Lane

The freeway's architecturally distinctive design distinguishes it as one of the nation's most attractive urban freeways including 400,000 trees (Cyprus, Yucca, and Honey Suckle) making it the most heavily landscaped freeways in Texas. Every structure and element along the highway right-of-way was given aesthetic attention during the design phase. Support columns for overpasses and bridges have been designed to be as visually appealing as possible. The beige concrete columns which form the support structure for the retaining walls contrast with the brown, textured infill panels of the walls to create a multicolored and articulated edge to the freeway. Two million square feet of these walls along the nine mile (14 km)-long project distinguishes the freeway.[2]

South of US 75's terminus, North Central Expressway briefly continues south in the median of I-345, then becomes a surface street through the eastern side of downtown Dallas. The surface street section south of Pearl Street was renamed for César Chávez in April, 2010.[3]

History[edit]

Central Expressway near NorthPark Center

The Central project was first proposed by Dallas City Planner George E. Kessler in 1911, who suggested that the city buy the right of way of the Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC) to remove the railway tracks and construct a Central Boulevard (later renamed the Central Expressway project) in their place. The Central project became a real project in the 1920s (with first mention in The Dallas Morning News in December 1924), but resistance from the Southern Pacific railroad company proved to be a serious obstacle that delayed the project for decades. Southern Pacific opposed the use of their railroad's right of way to construct the Central Expressway, and it was this opposition and lobbying of political forces that caused the significant delays in the construction to the early 1950s.[4]

Parts of the North Central Expressway were opened in 1950. The route from Downtown to Mockingbird Lane was fully functional by the end of 1952, and the whole route to Campbell Road in Richardson was opened for traffic in August 1956. By the time the Central Expressway opened for traffic, North Dallas and Richardson had already expanded beyond expectations, and the new highway was already hopelessly inadequate by the 1960s. The Expressway did not reach the city of Anna and the northern Collin County line until late 1969 or early 1970.

Reconstruction[edit]

Central Expressway heading southbound, towards Downtown Dallas

Prior to reconstruction, the North Central Expressway was considered to be one of the most poorly designed freeways in the nation.[5][6] Though initially an engineering marvel as Dallas's first freeway when it opened to traffic in 1950, the explosive growth that soon hit north Dallas and the nearby suburbs quickly overwhelmed its design and capacity. By the 1980s, the four-lane freeway had acquired a reputation for severe rush-hour traffic jams.

In the early 1980s, the TxDOT floated plans to build an elevated structure above the existing freeway[citation needed]. After considerable study and debate, elevated structures were eliminated. Construction started in 1992 and was finally completed in November 1999. Total reconstruction cost was around $600 million.

Freedman's Cemetery[edit]

During Central Expressway's construction in the 1940s, the southern end of the road was routed through a historic African-American neighborhood, displacing 1,500 black residents. When preparations began for the 1990s expansion of the route, it was discovered that a quarter of the 4-acre (16,000 m2) Freedman's Cemetery, with graves dating back to Emancipation, had been paved over. Archeological excavations uncovered the remains of over 1,100 men, women, and children under existing and proposed roadways. After their reburial, the site was turned into a memorial to the working-class black residents of the area, which after the expressways were built, became the upscale Uptown Dallas neighborhood.[7]

South Central Expressway[edit]

From south of Main Street and its crossing under the Interstate 45 overhead in downtown Dallas, Central Expressway became the South Central Expressway, renamed César Chávez Boulevard on April 9, 2010. This section through and south of downtown mainly serves local traffic. I-45 was built roughly parallel to it. However, the parallel section of I-45 north of the Trinity River is completely elevated, and is often difficult to traverse when ice storms hit Dallas (about once per year); thus, South Central often takes over some of the traffic during this time.

Route description[edit]

The road met Interstate 30 at a three-level interchange and continued south as a surface road down to I-45. This section was renamed in honor of César Chávez in April, 2010.[8] Upon crossing under I-45, it becomes U.S. Highway 175 and is signed both as South Central Expressway and S.M. Wright Freeway (named for a local minister). Where US 175 turns off to the east, the road continues south as State Highway 310; the S.M. Wright Freeway name ends at Loop 12, past the end of freeway standards. The South Central Expressway continues past a partial interchange with Interstate 20 to end at a merge with I-45 north of Hutchins.

Future[edit]

The US 175 section is due to be rerouted in the future, off South Central/S.M. Wright onto a new alignment, further extending C.F. Hawn Freeway west to I-45; it has not been reported whether or not the State Highway 310 numbering would replace US 175's when it is rerouted. Meanwhile, TxDOT is preparing to redesign the portion of South Central/S.M. Wright (between I-45 and US 175's current east turn) into a surface-street boulevard, and has held meetings with local residents about the project. Many have differences of opinion; some want a 4-lane arrangement, others want 6 lanes. Some even think TxDOT is to blame for dividing the surrounding neighborhood. Unfortunately, there is not current funding for the project, and even if there were, it would be 2015 at the earliest before US 175's rerouting could be finished.[9][10][11]

Exit list[edit]

South Central Expressway[edit]

The entire route is in Dallas, Dallas County.

Mile km Destinations Notes
0.000 0.000 Lamar Street northbound exit and southbound entrance
Municipal Avenue; Lamar Street northbound exit and entrance
Haven Street southbound exit and entrance
US 175 east – Kaufman no southbound entrance
Hatcher Street no northbound exit
Pine Street
Metropolitan Avenue
Pennsylvania Avenue northbound exit and southbound entrance
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard northbound exit only
I-45 to US 75 – McKinney northbound exit and southbound entrance
Good-Latimer Expressway northbound exit and southbound entrance
South Central Expressway becomes a surface road through Downtown Dallas
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

North Central Expressway[edit]

North Central Expressway is the only highway in Texas to use a consecutive-numbering system as opposed to a mile marker system. The numbering system south of I-635 changed drastically when several exits were consolidated; north of I-635 the system remained the same. When US 75 was rerouted west of Sherman and Denison, additional exits took the next available numbers.

North of McKinney, US 75 is not referred to as Central Expressway, giving way to other names such as Collins Freeway (Howe) and Sam Rayburn Freeway (Sherman).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "www.interstate-guide.com". 
  2. ^ "North Central Expressway". 
  3. ^ Cesar Chavez Street Signs Debuted Today At City Hall, Along Cesar Chavez Blvd., Unfair Park blog, Dallas Observer, Patrick Michels--writer, April 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  4. ^ "VickeryPlace.com: archive of newspaper clippings on the History of Central Expressway". 
  5. ^ Texasfreeway.com - Photos from after renovation
  6. ^ Texasfreeway.com - Historic photos
  7. ^ http://www.projectpast.org/jcbrandon/papers/dallas2004.asp
  8. ^ Cesar Chavez Street Signs Debuted Today At City Hall, Along Cesar Chavez Blvd., Unfair Park blog, Dallas Observer, Patrick Michels--writer, April 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  9. ^ TxDOT Dazzles Southern Dallas With Plans to Straighten Out "Statistically Dangerous Curve" on S.M. Wright, Dallas Observer "Unfair Park" Blog, Daniel Rodrigue--writer, March 31, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  10. ^ SMWrightProject.org, Halff Associates, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-22
  11. ^ Some say fix for S.M. Wright Freeway isn't enough, Dallas Morning News, Michael A. Lindenburger--writer, May 16, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-22.